It’s been a year since the pandemic forced most of us to seriously look into different ways of doing things, training included. The silver lining, however, is that it also made numerous instructors around the world see the possibilities of using technology to reach potential students in remote places, thus creating great opportunity for both instructors and students.
I didn’t think twice about jumping on such opportunity to join the 4-week course conducted by Celestino “Tinni” Macachor, the founder of the Filipino stick fighting system called Estokada De Campo. I first became aware of him back in 2007 when he co-authored the book titles Cebuano Eskrima: Beyond the Myth, which caused considerable turmoil with the FMA community for its factual approach to dispelling many of the myths and tall tales that were being perpetuated almost as sacred texts over decades.
I am not going to review the book here (although, if you are an adept of arnis or eskrima, this should be on your list of mandatory literature), but his writing style appealed to me, and it is also reflected in his conversational style – open, honest, and straightforward to the point of bluntness; great sense of humor and a healthy dose of humility…the exact right recipe to my liking.
Interestingly enough, mang Tinni’s original martial discipline was (and still is) practical pistol-craft of the IPSC orientation, but he took eskrima in the late 1980’s, studying in the Eskrima De Campo school under revered professor Ireneo Olavides, the heir to legendary grandmaster Jose Caballero, and currently the head of his own organization EDC JDC-IO. Although having been in the council of elders within that organization, mang Tinni (the way he prefers to be addressed) decided to step away so that the dislike and venomous comments that he attracted following the publishing of the aforementioned book wouldn’t affect the circle of brethren in JDC-IO.
Instead, he went into recluse for a decade, teaching only selected private students, and then in 2018 launched his own interpretation of combative stick training methodology, which he named Estokada De Campo (EDC for short).
Macachor’s training and teaching philosophy based on the functional athletic approach, meant to develop skills that work under the pressure of sparring against resisting opponents. If you are acquainted with my earlier blog materials, it won’t come as a surprise that I like it.
For the purposes of the online course (with limited attendance of 10 students from Europe, USA and the Philippines) mang Tinni put together a streamlined curriculum, very well thought out – in a logical, sequential manner, so that each block of instruction leads students smoothly to the next. This provides for the better understanding and faster assimilation of the material, i.e. its functional application.
Specifically, the first week covered the fundamentals of mechanical efficiency regarding the grip on the stick and execution of basic strikes, which were then put together into several combos (called BOSS – basic offensive strike series) done from the closed and open guard positions; the second block of instruction was dedicated to a different tactical application of striking angles (cirkulo); the third segment focused on one of the hallmarks of the system – kadlit; while the final session presented further methods of doble golpes and Caballero enganyo.
The format of instruction was such that man Tinni taught during weekly Zoom sessions, and over the following week the participants would film themselves performing the material, to be analyzed and corrected within a private discussion group on Facebook. I liked this setting for several reasons: it gave enough time to the instructor to really explain and demonstrate in detail the material planned for the given lesson, as well as to answer any potential questions in real time, while he was able to subsequently pay close attention to each individual student for coaching tips and correction. Also, it means all the participants were able to learn from each other’s examples, as it would be the case in a live setting.
|Photo: courtesy of Celestino Macachor|
The instructional sessions were conducted with attention to detail and ample examples and parallels with other types of activities, in order to better depict the desired effect. In line with his honest nature, mang Tinni never missed the chance to give credit where it is due, i.e. mentioning the people who taught him what he knew or had contributed to his understanding of the art. On top of that, since none of the students in this particular batch were beginners, he also repeatedly praised our previous instructors for having instilled certain good habits and attitude. As a side note, it was fairly impressive to see a gentleman of his age perform the way he did.
Finally, the mark of a true teacher, Macachor repeatedly noted that the point of training is not to mimic his exact way of movement, but rather to make the material your own by refining it through training and testing, so that it would be effective for the end user. This focus on prioritizing individual students over general curriculum is what will lead to favorable outcome.
In the case of EDC, after this module of instruction, in mang Tinni’s words: “It will not make you unbeatable, but you will be able to competently hold your own in a stick fight”. And let me tell you - you can take his word for it!
On a side note, I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Steve Del Castillo of the Bunal Brand, who ably provided the logistics for the whole program, and whom you may contact to join the next batch of students, starting on April 9.